Tellus in Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
another form for terra, the name under which the earth was
personified among the Romans, as Ge was among the Greeks.
She is often mentioned in contrast with Jupiter, the god of
heaven, and connected with Dis and the Manes. When an oath
was taken by Tellus, or the gods of the nether world, people
stretched their hands downward, just as they turned them
upwards in swearing by Jupiter. (Varro, de Re Rust. 1.1, 15
; Macr. 3.9; Liv. 8.9, 10.29.) During the war against the
Picentians, an earthquake having been felt during the
battle, the consul P. Seampronius Sophus caused a temple of
Tellus to be built on the spot where the house of Spurius
Cassius had stood, in the street leading to the Carinae.
(Liv. 2.41; Flor. 1.19.2; V. Max. 6.3.1; Dionys. A. R. 8.79;
Plin. Nat. 34.6, 14.) A festival was celebrated in honour of
Tellus on the 15th of April, which was called Fordicidia or
Hordicalia, from hordus or fordus, a bearing cow. (Ov. Fast.
4.633; Arnob. 7.22; Hor. Ep. 2.1. 143.) In private life
sacrifices were offered to Tellus at the time of sowing and
at harvest-time, especially when a member of the family had
died without due honours having been paid to him, for it was
Tellus that had to receive the departed into her bosom. (Ov.
Fast. 4.629, &c.) At the festival of Tellus, and when
sacrifices were offered to her, the priests also prayed to a
male divinity of the earth, called Tellumo. (Varro, apud
August. de Civ. Dei, 7.23.) - A Dictionary of Greek and
Roman biography and mythology, William Smith, Ed.